Archive for the ‘The Mentally Challenged’ Category
My Lecture for for Reformation Day 2008 at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg entitled “Luther’s In Depth Theology and Theological Therapy: (Using Self Psychology and a Little Jung)” has been published in that seminary’s journal, Seminary Ridge Review vol. 11 No. 1-2 (Autumn 2008-Spring 2009): 97-115.
I take a rather great risk by presenting Luther’s theology as in depth and I project that therapy can issue from it. In Luther’s day psychology and sociology had not yet separated from theology in an intellectual “division of labor.” We have always known the personal and psychological strength of Luther’s theology, but I go farther and try to work out an in depth personality theory and therapy from it. Instead of intra-psychic ego states like the super ego, ego, and id; I posit internal relational stances before God, others, oneself, and the world. I associated Luther’s continually placing opposites together with Carl Gustav Jung’s theory of opposites, which have to be transcended for growth. This theory also helped me analyze Luther’s episodes of spiritual conflict. I also correlate Self Psychology with Luther’s theology to bring out Luther’s depth dimension. Check out the rapturous ascent in faith and descent in love (falling in love). I would covet a critique of what I here distill out of Luther’s “Freedom of a Christian.”
My brother Philip also has a lecture in this issue and I recommend acquiring it. Write to
Seminary Ridge Review
Lutheran Theological Seminary
61 Seminary Ridge
Gettysburg, PA 17325-1795
Subscriptions are free. Extra copies cost $10 each plus postage and handling.
Vincent van Gogh also had to deal with episodes of Mental Distress.
In St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church in Coney Island, New York, we had a ministry to the homeless and mentally challenged for many years. South Beach Psychiatric Center from Statin Island rented our social hall and the rooms of our facility. My bible study in the church became a therapy session, where the suffering mentally challenged members would bring up their delusions and I would try to understand and be helpful to them in the really difficult situations they found themselves in. Many were beyond the “talking cure,” but they really felt whether or not you were empathic, even if they were in an episode. I had to be careful not to talk against medications, because there are certainly two sides to the issue involving their use and I could have easily caused a revolt against the regimen of their daily dose of psychotropic medications. I could not stop their smoking. They seemed to medicate themselves by puffing away and they would have smoked two at a time if they could have. There’s a contradiction there: they are all upset about being medicated and they are medicating themselves with cigarettes! The roughest part would be hospitalizing someone beginning to experience an episode of their mental distress. I was doing some pretty difficult ministry in Coney Island, but the ministry to the mentally challenged was by far the hardest of all. I know that I finally succeeded in getting an inner-city ministry conference in Manhattan to deal with the issue and sitting between two mentally challenged persons, who were telling their story to all the pastors, nearly gave me a mental breakdown. I couldn’t believe what they said! (They brought up topics that were way out of bounds and there was nothing I could do about it.) Still, what remains with me was their plea not to give the psychiatric community the last word over them. Why should the church shirk ministering to them? After all the Gospel story includes Jesus’ healing what they called the “demon possessed” in those days.
Here is a reaction to an article about this subject in Christianity and Crisis that I wrote back in the middle of 1992. Psychology can be separated from sociology and politics for academic purposes, but these forces are all involved in the injuring of the psyche of people, and our trying to ascribe all this injury to biological predispositions is not realisitic. It is wishful thinking that medication will be the solution to the mental distress and suffering of the many casualties produced by our society, with its violent, unwholesome conditions, and extremely destructive tensions. Read thoughts about the mentally challenged: